Letters to the Editor, June 28, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 5:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 5:16pm

Britain may be the first major domino to fall

Britain has chosen to leave the world’s largest common market, with 508 million residents, including 65 million Britons. The free movement of labour, capital, goods and services between the European Union and Britain will now be severely curtailed. Half of Britain’s exports, sold on Europe’s common market, will need to be renegotiated. Ironically, this will require an escalation of the bureaucratic zeal that Brussels was accused of by the Leave majority.

London’s status as a global financial centre is now imperilled. British parochialism and isolationism reflecting nostalgia for yesteryear’s “Britannia rules the waves” is viewed with suspicion worldwide.

It is telling that Brexit’s cheerleaders are destabilising outliers. Donald Trump states that “it’s a great thing”. The French far-right praised Britain’s exit, with Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party, vowing to push for a similar referendum there. Britain may be the first major domino to fall, a dangerous precedent that holds potential to fracture the stability conferred by a half-century of the European Union.

The cataclysm of Britain’s exit from the European Union poses ruinous aftershocks for global financial and currency markets. It will negatively affect daily life in Britain. One example is less medical care in communities where general practice is currently expertly and efficiently delivered by locum doctors from Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe after hours and on weekends.

Welcome to the brave new, unlikely to be better, world.

Joseph Ting, Queensland, Australia

What Brexit can teach Hong Kong localists

Localists and those advocating Hong Kong independence should take note of the traumatic aftermath of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Should Hong Kong be cut off from her motherland, the result would likely be a hundred times worse than the British situation. It would mean the certain demise of Hong Kong.

Simon Yau, Kowloon City

‘One country, two systems’ is working fine

Some Hongkongers claim that the principle of “one country, two systems” has been compromised in the case of the Causeway Bay booksellers, as pointed out in the article “The bottom line? Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee’s case has nothing to do with ‘one country, two systems’” (June 21). I think the principle is working fine and being honoured by the central government.

Those who allege it’s not working should understand that “one country, two systems” applies to geographical territory, but not to a place of residence. That is, if you are a Hong Kong citizen, all the rights, legal system, laws and so on in Hong Kong, which are different from those in mainland China, apply to you while you are physically in Hong Kong. These are not “things” that you can carry with you on your mobile device. You can’t demand that all the rights and legal procedures in Hong Kong still apply to you when you are outside Hong Kong, not just in mainland China but in any other country, especially if you break the laws there.

This is not a concept unique to “one country, two systems”. It’s basic knowledge that if you are in any country, the laws, rights or any restrictions to rights of that country apply first, not those of your own place of residence. For example, if you smuggle dangerous drugs into some South Asian countries, you face the death penalty, even though Hong Kong does not carry out the death penalty.

This is common, basic knowledge: you have to follow the laws and rules of the country or place you are in, regardless of how you feel about them.

Joe Lee, Kwun Tong

Salty food isn’t the biggest problem

I refer to the report, “Slurp safely: restaurant soups too salty, Hong Kong consumer watchdog warns” (June 15). It is not true that high sodium content comes from a high intake of table salt (sodium chloride).

It is true that the soups provided by restaurants are salty. A lot of water is needed after a meal in order to relieve the thirst that comes from eating it. Often, however, the soups contain not only table salt but also chicken extract powder and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Table salt is only one source of sodium in soup. Despite this, the Consumer Council and the Centre for Food Safety investigated only the sodium content in soup, and assumed that sodium intake is directly related to the intake of table salt.

It’s important to test the full content of food additives, instead of highlighting just one element. This is a lesson we learned from the contaminated milk powder scandal in mainland China some years ago. Some milk suppliers added the chemical melamine, which contains about 67 per cent of nitrogen by weight, to the milk in order to increase its nitrogen content and apparent protein content. Just testing for nitrogen did not give the whole picture. The contamination resulted in many infants suffering from renal diseases.

I think the Consumer Council and Centre for Food Safety should conduct further studies to investigate the entire content of food additives rather than specific elements, so we can have a clearer picture about food safety.

Felix Mak Hoi Kuoh, Kowloon Bay

Raising profits tax will help retirees

Bowing to public wishes for retirement security, one of Hong Kong’s multimillionaires, Mr Li Ka-shing, has made the most pragmatic proposal of raising Hong Kong’s profits taxes – which are among the lowest in the world – by “one or two percentage points” (“Li Ka-shing calls for higher profits tax rate to tackle Hong Kong wealth gap”, June 22). I hope the government and other rich businessmen will heed his plea to make retirement security possible, in the interests of both the SAR government and the general public.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong

Kids aren’t born to serve selfish ends

Much has been said about a mother’s advice on “winning the race at the starting line”. In a TVB programme aired earlier this month, the woman advised parents to enhance their child’s competitiveness by ensuring he or she is born in January, so that the child will have an edge over younger children in school admissions (“Hothouse Hong Kong is spawning a new breed of monster parents”, June 26).

Her words are seemingly full of wisdom, but I shudder at the damage such a suggestion could do to a child’s development. Imagine placing such a heavy responsibility on the child’s shoulders even prior to his birth! How unfair it would be for the child to be forced to meet his parents’ expectations before even taking his first breath.

Blame society for the limited kindergarten admissions, but why should a baby have to bear such a burden?

Good parenting involves planning for the child, yes, but it also means keeping the child happy and healthy. Our priority must be the child’s well-being. If parents care only about attaining their own goals, everything the child does would have to serve their purpose. The child may not be allowed to explore and pursue his own interests, lest he disappoint his parents. How miserable his youth would be.

This suggestion is an insult to life itself. Childbirth is the natural manifestation of the love of the parents. Control to this degree is over the top. A child’s well-being should top his parents’ priority list. Anything that hinders his healthy and joyful growth is to be condemned.

Angela Chong, Macau